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German doctor fined again over abortion advertising ban

BERLIN — A German doctor has been convicted for the second time of violating a ban on advertising abortions in a case that has become a rallying point for opponents of the law.

News agency dpa reported Thursday that Kristina Haenel was fined 2,500 euros ($2,775) by the state court in the central city of Giessen. Alongside the fine, it made clear that it wasn’t convinced the law is in line with Germany’s constitution.

In 2017, Haenel was fined 6,000 euros after stating on her website that she carried out abortions. That violated a German law that bans “advertising” the procedure, and which carries a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.

In July, a Frankfurt court overturned that conviction and ordered a retrial after the government loosened the rules on the issue.

Under a compromise reached earlier this year, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition left the ban on advertising abortions formally in place but allowed doctors and hospitals for the first time to say on their websites that they perform abortions. They were not, however, allowed to give more detailed information.

Haenel, who has argued that the change doesn’t go far enough and still amounts to “state censorship,” plans to appeal the latest ruling.

The change in the law on advertising didn’t affect Germany’s law on abortion itself. The procedure is allowed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy on condition that a woman undergoes counselling at least three days beforehand.

The Associated Press